Empowering Through Information and the Fostering of Connections
Love. Acceptance. Intervention. Civil Rights. May 03, 2019

In This Issue

Please Share This Newsletter and Facebook Page!!!

5 Things You Need to Know About Disability Housing and Advocacy

What Are The Best Alternatives To Behavior Charts?

How Do You Know If a Child With Autism Has a Mental Health Disorder?

New guide to help manage anxiety in autism

How to 'Hug' a Kid With Autism

Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

Friendship Walk, June 2nd!!!

iFLY's All Abilities Event Invitation

SCS Summer Social Learning Programs

Free Webinar on Dyslexia, May 28th

Mastermind Autism and Aging, May 21st in Carlsbad

Tennis clinics for children 6-12 for children on autism spectrum

Mito 5K - UC San Diego Mitochondrial Disease Research Fund

My Special Needs Conneciton May Newsletter (SD)

Book: Autistic and Awesome

Jeremiah's Ranch May Newsletter

Konnections Camp

Preparing for High School and Beyond

Mainly Mozart's Mozart & the Mind


Please Share This Newsletter and Facebook Page!!!

ValeriesList is a FREE resource newsletter and Facebook Page for San Diego County and has been for over 18 years. No fees or membership are required to receive this info. An informed public makes better decisions for its' persons with Special Needs. Please share with friends, family, fellow professionals and clients!!! Click here to check out my FB page! Thank YOU!


Friendship Circle of San Diego is a non-profit 501c3 organization dedicated to providing friendship and support to individuals with special needs and their families by providing recreational, social and educational programming. In addition to helping those in need, the Friendship Circle San Diego enriches its vast network of volunteers by enabling them to reap the rewards of selfless giving.

Our Mission
Friendship Circle creates friendship in the lives of individuals with special needs and those facing isolation while providing an opportunity to become a contributing member of the community. Through our programming, Friendship Circle aims to promote an inclusive community that values all individuals regardless of the challenges they face.

Our Values
Friendship Circle is founded upon the idea that within each person is a soul; and that soul is equal and worthy of boundless love. With this inspiration, the lives of the families we serve are enhanced while the volunteers reap the rewards of selfless giving.

thomas nelson

Call for a FREE IEP Evaluation 858-945-6621!!!

Your child's education comes first.
Your child is entitled to a "free and appropriate public education" or FAPE, whereby the school addresses all of your child's unique needs. A school district must provide your child with an appropriate education regardless of budget cuts, what's convenient, or what's available. Too often the school district offers a "one size fits all" program that fits within their needs, but not within the unique needs of your child. Ensuring that your child's education comes first means having the right team on your side. An effective team works cooperatively and collaboratively with the school district, using their knowledge, expertise and experience to foster quick and yet effective resolutions.

Because of the "Attorney Fee Recovery" provision of the law, we often work with clients on limited incomes. Before concluding that you are unable to afford an attorney, call us for a free evaluation. Knowing your child's rights allows you the ability to direct the next step!

  • 5 Things You Need to Know About Disability Housing and Advocacy

  • 1. Without access to affordable housing, people are forced into "the next empty bed" or a more restrictive setting than necessary.

    Most people who have public funding for support services use a Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver. HCBS waivers "waive" the need for institutional care to access supports and services in their homes and communities. This funding can be used for direct support staff and services but cannot be used for rent, food, clothing, going to the movies, eating out with friends, etc. The majority of adults with I/DD do not have a full-time jobs and rely on SSI (max. $733 a month) or SSDI (dependent on how much their parents earn, avg. $832). Some argue that this is why we need to focus on competitive, integrated employment of persons with I/DD - so that people can afford to live independently. However, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a renter earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour would need to work 90 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom rental home at the Fair Market Rent.

    Accessibility is also a huge barrier in securing affordable housing. Even if a person is able to secure a waiver without accessible, affordable housing, they may still end up in the "next empty bed," which may be a group home, a foster/host home placement, a nursing facility, a psychiatric ward, or, as a recent Welsh study suggests, the streets. To ensure your loved one will not be forced into "the next empty bed," consider beginning to save for his or her future housing costs. ABLE accounts are tax-sheltered 529 savings accounts that can be opened online with just $25.Want to learn more about housing affordability in your state? Check out the latest Out of Reach Report. Read on...

  • What Are The Best Alternatives To Behavior Charts?
  • Last week, I shared my experience with behavior charts.

    The shame, the anxiety and perhaps, most frustrating of all, the fact that they really don't work.

    Time and time again, it has been shown that children having the most issues will not only not be helped by a behavior chart, it often actually causes an increase in negative behaviors and a decrease in positive performance.

    Because I feel strongly that this type of motivation is shame-based and honestly, often cruel, in this follow-up post I want to provide more effective and confidence building-alternatives to the typical behavior chart. Read on...

  • How Do You Know If a Child With Autism Has a Mental Health Disorder?
  • Like all kids, those on the autism spectrum display a wide variety of behaviors and emotions. It can be tricky to know what's normal and what needs to be addressed.

    Parents need to trust their guts and observations. You know your child best, and if you notice he/she is acting out negatively in a way he/she normally does not, it's always a red flag. When behavior repeatedly seems out of the ordinary for a child, it's appropriate to start with a visit to the pediatrician or a specialist. A pediatrician sees a wide range of kids, and can often more easily identify what is out of the ordinary.

    It's important to differentiate between irritability and being scared or nervous. Irritability is a hallmark of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but if a child is truly afraid or extremely nervous, there is likely something else going on. Rigidity is also typical of ASD, but if a small change in routine raises fear and really throws the child off, it may be anxiety driving the behavior. Read on...

  • New guide to help manage anxiety in autism
  • Around 40% of autistic children, young people and adults are believed to have one or more anxiety disorders, compared to 10-15% of the general population.

    Less known is the fact that anxiety is not simply a part of autism - it is an independent disorder that can be treated in its own right.

    Heightened and intensive feelings of fear can often be hard to identify as anxiety in individuals with autism. This is because it can present in an unusual way, such as excessive fear of very specific objects or unusual worry about a change in routine. Such expressions of anxiety might be dismissed as part of autism, rather than co-occurring anxiety. However, when this distinction is identified and addressed it can lead to major improvements to an individual's quality of life. Read on...

  • How to 'Hug' a Kid With Autism
  • It's Autism Awareness Month, and to honor it, Sesame Street is showing us how to better support kids on the spectrum. They've released a few new short videos featuring Julia, the show's first character with autism.

    In the video above, Julia and her neurotypical big brother Samuel teach Abby a new kind of hug, as Julia doesn't like big hugs. Some people with autism have a strong sensitivity to touch, so hugging can overwhelm them. Julia prefers "starfish hugs"-you and the other person each lift up a hand, spread out your fingers like a starfish and touch your fingertips together. Read on...

  • Family and Others Looking for Help!!!

  • Seeking nanny with autism experience
    Position Type: Nanny in Poway

    Work Schedule: Part-time position, Monday-Friday from 12:15 to 5:15 (Desired start ASAP)
    Click here for all the info!!!

    I am looking for information on where to find Occupational therapy for an adult with disability's. Or a therapist interested in working privately at our east county home.
    Please respond at Thank you

    Hello, my family and I are relocating to SD county from the Napa area and were looking in Valley Center, Fallbrook area, as we have horses and would like to keep them with us, however, we are hearing those districts may not be the best choice for special needs kids and that we may be better off looking in Poway, Vista, San Marcos districts. My 8 year-old son is high-functioning ASD, very asperger-y lol (bright, funny, exceedingly social), also is medically fragile with lots of sensory needs and other developmental delays. I am in the market for new everything: feeding, occupational, social skills therapy, pediatrician, hair salon (for him), but I am most concerned about schooling options. He has been in gen ed with a 1:1 since Kindergarten, very bright, funny, active kid but seriously lacking pragmatic skills, very low threshold for frustration and as the educational demands increase so do his behaviors (nothing extreme, screaming, crying, putting head down on arm and crying-HATES SCHOOL), becomes extremely overstimulated in the gen ed environment which manifests in extreme tiredness (he only has one lung so that is part of it-when he gets overwhelmed it's like every ounce of energy is sucked out of him). IEP is next week, we will be pushing for a program at his current school, the model of which is for kids with ASD who function at or close to grade level, smaller class size (max 8), embedded behavioral services, 2:1 structured learning centers. He gets hospitalized a lot, misses a lot of school, you get the picture. Anyway, any recommendations would be super helpful. I'm also a special ed teacher, I know his rights and I have no issue engaging in a frank and candid exchange with teachers, admin or service providers. Please email me with your thoughts/advice. Thanks.

    Hi, My name is Caryn Cole and I'm a Marriage, Child and Family Therapist, LMFT and an Autism Spectrum Consultant. I'm also a parent of a son with Autism. I am doing some of my own research on how to best support families with school age children on the Autism Spectrum on a deeper level. Will you please take a moment to fill out this brief survey? It will only take 3 -5 minutes. It will be very helpful to me and as a bonus to anyone of you who are open, I will be more than happy to provide a phone consultation plan like I do my clients that I work with based on how you filled out the survey.
    Link to Autism Survey:

    I am looking for occupational therapy, physical therapy or a personal trainer for my son. He is 12 and seems to have outgrown most o/t gyms. Looking for someplace with a gym big enough for big kids. I would also like to find a personal trainer with experience working with kids with special needs.
    Please send any ideas to me at

    If you have a question or request for this newsletter group, please send your email request to People who can help you will email you directly with their responses.

  • Friendship Walk, June 2nd!!!
  • Friendship Walk is a fun-filled family event that brings together the entire community for an amazing cause. Come show your support for The Friendship Circle as we walk together to create awareness, solidarity, and support for children with special needs and their families.

    Together we can create an inclusive community that embraces and nurtures people of all abilities.

    June 2nd, 2019, 8:00 a.m.
    Liberty Station NTC Park
    2455 Cushing Rd, San Diego, CA 92106

    Click here for all the info and to register:

  • iFLY's All Abilities Event Invitation
    iFLY San Diego (Mission Valley)
    Date: Sunday, June 2, 2019
    Time: 10AM - 7PM

    The All Abilities Event at iFLY is a unique event that makes the dream of flight a reality for those in the adaptive needs community. This program has been custom designed for those with physical and cognitive challenges to create an environment of support and inclusion, while focusing on making what seems impossible, possible. If you have someone in your life who is unable to participate in able-bodied activities, but still wants to be challenged and push their limits then this is the perfect event to join. Feel free to pass this information along to anyone you think might benefit from attending!

    Details of the program:

    -Everyone in the all abilities community is welcome to participate.
    -Event package includes a pre-flight training session.
    -Event package also includes all the necessary flight gear (suit, helmet, goggles, earplugs, etc.).
    -Each flyer will be assisted by specially IBA certified and trained Flight Instructors.
    -During the event our instructors will pay extra attention and accommodate based on each participant's needs.
    -Each flyer receives 2 flights all for the price of $39.95.
    -We can accommodate (6)Flyers per group.
    -We have a new group arriving every 30 minutes. Example: 10:00am is GROUP1, 10:30am is GROUP2 etc.
    -When booking, provide the time you would like to arrive.

    If you are ready to book please give us a call at 619-432-4359 and press the number 4.

    Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or concerns. We look forward to seeing you at our next All Abilities Event!

  • SCS Summer Social Learning Programs
    Programs focusing on executive functioning and social communication include LEGO therapy groups, Cooking Club, "Unstuck and On Target" to improve flexible thinking and emotional regulation, teen pizza & games night and executive functioning bootcamp. Click here for registration form!!!

    Social Communication Specialists
    5703 Oberlin Dr, Ste 207
    San Diego, CA 92121
    (858) 558-9552

    At SCS, we follow the Social Thinking® approach pioneered by Michelle Garcia Winner.

  • Free Webinar on Dyslexia, May 28th
  • This webinar will cover the following points:

    • What is dyslexia?
    • Appropriate interventions for dyslexic students
    • Helpful accommodations for dyslexic students
    Featuring Kelli Sandman-Hurley, Ed.D., author and co-founder of the Dyslexia Training Institute. Dr. Sandman-Hurley received her doctorate in literacy with a specialization in reading and dyslexia from San Diego State University and the University of San Diego. Additionally, she is currently completing her TESOL certification. Dr. Sandman-Hurley is a certified special education advocate assisting parents and children through the Individual Education Plan (IEP) and 504 Plan process.

    Join us by registering at

    The webinar will air on May 28th at 12:00 noon and will repeat on May 30th at 7:00 pm.

  • Mastermind Autism and Aging, May 21st in Carlsbad
  • Hey Everyone
    I wanted to get together and chat about our kids and what happens next. As our kids are becoming adults it's hard to find programs, navigate transition, conservatorships and future housing alone. The emotions run high and I believe we can all come together and share our stories, knowledge and brainstorm for the future. All parents and caregivers welcome.

    I didn't want this to be affiliated with an organization. Just us parents/caregivers coming together to help one another. I wanted to focus on the teen/adult years in this mastermind.

    Dr Susan Daniel has graciously opened up her office for us all come together. 3144 El Camino Real, Suite 202, Carlsbad

    Please RSVP to
    Thank you! Hope to see you on May 21 @630pm

  • Tennis clinics for children 6-12 for children on autism spectrum
  • tennis_icon.jpg

    What ... Tennis clinics for children 6-12 for children on autism spectrum. Each kid provided a one on one junior coach .

    When .... Saturday's 130-230

    Cost ... FREE

    Where ... La Jolla Tennis Club, 7632 Draper Ave, La Jolla

    Goals .... kids on ASD to learn independence, socialization and team work thru tennis ! Also to have tons of fun!

    Contact .... Susan Stuart, Call / text 8586992300 or email

  • Mito 5K - UC San Diego Mitochondrial Disease Research Fund
  • Join us on Saturday, May 18, 2019 as we host our 7th annual 5k Family Fun Day Event to raise funds for research to save children suffering from Mitochondrial disease. (Mitochondrial Disease has been tied to autism.)

    The Run starts at 9 AM and the Walk at 9:15 AM NTC Park, Liberty Station in Point Loma, San Diego

    Activities and Vendors: Carnival games, rides and prizes, food vendors, live music and dance performances, over 100 raffles and silent auction items and all types of vendor booths.

    Join Us:

  • My Special Needs Conneciton May Newsletter (SD)

  • Click here to read all their news and upcoming events!!!

  • Book: Autistic and Awesome
  • Alfonso Julián is a unique writer because of his age and talent. He learned to communicate when he was 7 years old and showed that people with non-speaking autism have a lot to say and contribute. Autistic & Awesome is his opera prima where he presents a collection of his personal writings about his experience. Before, he seemed to have nothing to share, now his work shows us a complete, full and realized human being. Alfonso is now twelve, he lives with in Chula Vista, CA with his parents and brother. He continues to write and advocate for non-speaking individuals.

    Here is my FB page:

  • Jeremiah's Ranch May Newsletter
  • Click here to read their latest newsletter for all the info and events.

  • Konnections Camp
  • Specialized Therapy Services is hosting a summer literacy and play camp for kids ages 2-5. The goal of the camp is to help young children develop school readiness and social skills. The camp will be lead by licensed speech and occupational therapists. Children with special needs are more than welcome!

  • Preparing for High School and Beyond
  • May 9, 2019
    9:30 to 11am
    PLNU Graduate Education
    4007 Camino Del Rio South - Fourth Floor
    San Diego, CA 92108

    Please join other parents, caregivers and professionals at the following monthly informational and support group meetings in Mission Valley. These meetings will discuss the various aspects of autism through the lifespan. Each meeting will feature an expert speaker and an ASA parent mentor. This is a time for you to meet other parents, ask questions and network.
    The meetings are free and open to all.

    Please RSVP for Spanish Translation support
    For further information, please contact:
    Lisa Larsson - (619) 725-8080 ext. 7946 email:
    Maryann Collins - email:
    Grace Fantaroni, Ed.D. - (619) 563-2839 email:

  • Mainly Mozart's Mozart & the Mind

  • Mainly Mozart's Mozart & the Mind has been approved as a vendor for San Diego Regional Center clients! Use Vendor Number PY1606 to request regional center funding for this event! Find more details and registration information here:

  • ASD Mornings at the NAT
  • The San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat) is pleased to offer a program for the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) community: a once-a-month ASD Morning in which the Museum opens early for adults and children on the autism spectrum and their families, friends, and caregivers. This innovative program encourages individuals to explore, play, and discover the treasures The Nat has to offer in an environment that is comfortable for them.

    ASD Mornings take place the second Sunday of every month. The Museum will open at 9 AM*, one hour earlier than its standard 10 AM opening time, providing a quiet and less-crowded environment for visitors to explore the Museum's galleries at their own pace. In addition, on ASD Mornings the Museum will offer a "quiet room" from 9 AM to noon if visitors need a quiet space to decompress or desensitize. General admission rates apply during ASD Mornings.

  • Autism Accessibility Morning at the Fleet!

  • The third Saturday of every month, Fleet invites the Autism Spectrum Community to enjoy our museum through this special opportunity. Adults and families with children with autism can enjoy the Fleet's exhibit galleries in a quieter setting, an hour before regular open hours to the general public and with access to a special cool-off space. Visitors are welcome to stay and enjoy the museum all day. Admission includes a special IMAX film screening at 10 a.m. with the house lights on and a lower soundtrack volume.

    For more information, visit

  • Everyone Deserves a Loving Home

  • Contact Lynn Scott for more information 619-954-7847 or

  • Therapeutic Recreation Services Spring 2019 Calendar
  • Click here to view our new Spring 2019 calendar!!!

    Important dates to remember:
    Saturday, February 16, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.
    Registration begins for Spring activities

    Saturday, March 2nd, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.
    Registration begins for Summer Camps

    You may sign up online at or at our office 3325 Zoo Drive, 92101.

  • Learn About RDI in San Diego!
  • Therapeutic Approach to Growth
    9466 Black Mountain Road
    Suite 100
    San Diego, CA 92126
    Phone: (858) 689-2027

  • Learn About RDI in Carlsbad!
  • Therapeutic Approach to Growth
    5411 Avenida Encinas
    Suite 110
    Carlsbad, CA 92008
    Phone: (760) 448-5837

  • Participate in SPARK at UCSD

  • UC San Diego's Autism Center of Excellence is seeking individuals diagnosed with ASD and their biological family members to participate in SPARK, the largest national genetics research project in US history! The SPARK study aims to gain a better understanding of the causes and potential treatments of autism by building a cohort of 50,000 diagnosed individuals to facilitate research on an unprecedented scale. There is NO cost to participate in the study and it can even be completed without leaving the house!

    What we do
    SPARK researchers extract genetic data through a saliva sample and analyze information collected from thousands of people with autism and their biological parents. UCSD and over 20 of the nation's leading medical schools are part of this effort.

    How to join*
    1. Sign up online at -- registration typically takes about 20 minutes. Using this link connects you to our site, which enables us to better follow up with you if you encounter any issues or have specific questions.
    2. Complete a few questionnaires online.
    3. Provide a saliva sample. A saliva collection kit will be sent directly to your home after registration. When you are done, simply mail it back in the prepaid mailer.

    Benefits of joining
    1. Individuals with autism will receive gift cards valued at up to a total of $50 for participation.
    2. SPARK hosts monthly webinars, featuring psychologists, researchers, or speakers from the autism community, that provide useful information for families and individuals with autism.
    3. If a genetic finding is discovered related to the cause of autism, results will be shared back with families.
    4. The information you provide may help others with ASD for generations to come!

    *Our site also offers the option for home appointments where a member of our SPARK team can come to your home and assist you in the registration process, collect the saliva samples, and mail them in for you! This is typically the preferred method for families as everything gets completed at once. Please note that we ask that both biological parents and individual diagnosed with ASD be present for these appointments. We can accommodate a variety of dates and times outside normal business hours on the weekdays or weekends -- whichever is most convenient for you and your family! Alternatively, we can also schedule in-clinic appointments at our office if that is preferred.

    You can visit our SPARK FAQ page for additional details. Please contact us via email at or via phone at 858-534-6906 if you would like to set up an appointment or if you have any questions!

  • Brain Imaging Studies for all Ages with or without Autism

  • The Brain Development Imaging Labs at San Diego State University are looking for individuals with diagnosed or suspected autism to participate in a brain imaging study. Participants would receive around $150 plus free cognitive testing and an MRI scan. Child participants would receive a free assessment summary and image of their brain as a bonus! We are looking to recruit from all ages, but we especially need adults, ages 40-65 years, to participate. If you know someone who might be a good fit for our study, please share this information with them. Thank you.

    At SDSU!!! To find out more, please call 619-594-0176 or email BDIL@SDSU.EDU.


    I never endorse anyone or anything. Opinions expressed in what I send out, may not be shared by me. Everything is for informational purposes only.
    People who "advertise" through this newsletter have never been checked out by me. Same goes for the "Sponsors". This includes professionals and even people who are interested in babysitting, etc. So, please take the time to thoroughly check out anyone and everyone who will be working with or caring for your child/adult. We are all sadly aware, through news stories and word of mouth, of people who prey upon special needs children and adults because of their extra vulnerability.

    Valerie Dodd-Saraf
    President, Foggy Coast Ventures, Inc.